February 27, 2014

Bulldogs Headed to Hanover for Heptagonal Championships

Ivy League Championship up for Grabs

NEW HAVEN, Conn.—The Yale men's indoor track and field team will begin postseason competition this weekend when it travels to Hanover, N.H., to take part in the Ivy League Heptagonal Championships (Heps). The annual meet, hosted by Dartmouth this year, will span both Saturday and Sunday and bring together teams from all eight Ivy League schools. Cornell came out on top at last year's Heps, edging out Princeton by just one point.

The Elis last took to the track on Feb. 15 at the Harvard-Yale-Princeton meet, where several individual athletes put on impressive performances. The team will be seeking to use some of that momentum to its advantage this weekend. Saturday's festivities will include the final rounds of the long jump, pole vault, shot put and 3,000-meter run, as well as preliminary rounds of most track events. The final rounds of most track events will take place on Sunday, as will the various relays and the finals in the remaining field events.

The strongest area of the Bulldogs' indoor squad this season has been its sprinters, headlined by freshman standout Marc-Andre Alexandre. Alexandre has had a remarkable season competing in the 60-meter, 200-meter and 400-meter dashes. The Montreal native has competed in nine final-round races this season, placing first in six of them. Alexandre has made his mark in the Yale record books as well, running the second-fastest 400-meter dash and eighth-fastest 200-meter dash in school history. Alexandre figures to perform especially well in either event this weekend, as he currently holds the fastest 400-meter time and second-fastest 200-meter time in the Ivy League this season.

Other Yale sprinters to keep an eye on include freshman Chandler Crusan, junior Dylan Hurley, senior Daniel Jones, senior Dana Lindberg, junior William Rowe and senior Nnamdi Udeh. Apart from Alexandre, Jones and Lindberg have been the team's top short sprinters this season, and both hold 60-meter and 200-meter times that are among the 13 fastest in the Ivy League this season. Rowe, for his part, is coming off a strong showing in the 500-meter dash against Harvard and Princeton, and he now holds the 12th-fastest time in that event in the Ivy League this season.

For most of the season, the Bulldogs' success in the sprints has also translated to success in the 4x400 meter relay. The Elis' top team in the event—when healthy and rested—is the foursome of Alexandre, Hurley, Lindberg and Rowe, and at least three of those four should represent Yale in the event this weekend.

The Elis will also be hoping to pick up some points in the middle-distance events. Senior team captain James Shirvell cruised to a first-place finish in the 1,000-meter run in the preliminary round at last year's Heps before finishing third overall in the final the following day. Interestingly, though, Shirvell has not competed in the 1,000-meter event at all this season, focusing instead on the mile run, where he set Yale's all-time school record earlier this year. Shirvell is likely to compete in the mile run again this weekend.

Yale's other likely middle-distance competitors include junior Michael Grace, freshman Andre Ivankovic, sophomore John Keisling, junior Alexander McDonald, sophomore Max Payson and freshman James Randon. Grace has had an especially strong year, recording the 20th-fastest 1,000-meter time in the Ivy League this season at the Terrier Invitational back in January. Randon, however, is currently slated to represent Yale in the 1,000-meter event, while Ivankovic is scheduled to join Shirvell in the mile. The Bulldogs' 4x800-meter relay team will likely consist of Grace, McDonald, Payson and either Ivankovic or Keisling.

Sophomore pole vaulter Brendan Sullivan also gives the Elis an excellent chance to grab some points. Sullivan has had a remarkable season, placing in the top four at every meet in which he has competed, recording three first-place finishes and improving his personal record to 16'4.75" (5.00m)—one of the top five pole vaulting personal records in school history. If Sullivan were to meet or come close to that mark again this weekend, he would have an excellent chance of placing highly.

Similarly, Lindberg—in addition to his success in the short sprints—has excelled in the long jump this season, competing in the event four times and placing first twice. If he were to score near his season-best leap of 23'1.75" (7.05m), he would have a good opportunity to add to Yale's scoring total.

In the 3,000-meter and 5,000-meter races, meanwhile, talented distance runners like sophomore Alex Conner, senior Michael Cunetta, sophomore Kevin Dooney, freshman Dan Grosvenor, senior Ryan Laemel, junior Isa Qasim and sophomore Duncan Tomlin will seek to help Yale's cause. Dooney set the 10th-fastest 3,000-meter personal record in Yale history this season, while Conner, Qasim and Tomlin hold the 15th-, 16th- and 17th-fastest 5,000-meter times, respectively, in the Ivy League this year. Currently, Cunetta, Grosvenor and Laemel plan to run the shorter 3,000-meter event, while Conner, Dooney, Qasim and Tomlin plan to focus on the 5,000-meters.

Freshman Austin Loewen, meanwhile, owns Yale's top 60-meter hurdles time this season: an 8.57 he registered against Harvard and Princeton a couple weeks ago. Junior Daniel Kemp and freshman Torren Peebles have both also regularly competed in the event this season, and all three athletes have consistently recorded similar times.

Senior John Oppenheimer and freshman Luke Persichetti have represented the Elis in the shot put and weight throw events this season. Both athletes have improved as the season has progressed, and—against Harvard and Princeton—Oppenheimer registered his best mark of the season in the shot put while Persichetti recorded his best score of the season in the weight throw. 

Finally, the Bulldogs will also enter a team in Sunday's distance medley relay. The Elis have only competed in the event twice this season, entering completely different squads in the event each time. The Elis do have a recent history of success in the event, however, placing fifth at last year's Heps and earning All-East honors with another fifth-place finish at last year's IC4As. Sunday's squad appears likely to consist of Crusan, Randon, Shirvell and sophomore middle-distance runner John Mahoney.

Saturday's action in the men's events will open at 11:00 a.m. and conclude with the 3,000-meter run at around 2:30 p.m. Sunday's events will begin a little before noon and conclude by 4:00 p.m., with an awards ceremony scheduled for 4:25 p.m. A full schedule of events is available here, and live video of the second day of the meet will be available here on Sunday. Results will be available on www.yalebulldogs.com following each day's events.

Report by Zach Schloss '15, Yale Sports Publicity

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